In late 2010, the Government launched a consultation into proposed changes to the international student VISA system. These initial proposals included plans to;
• Scrap the Tier 1 Post Study Work VISA which enabled international graduates search for employment after the completion of their studies.
• Raise the acceptable standard level of courses students can study.
• Force students to return overseas immediately upon completion of their course before applying for other courses or employment.
• Limit the entitlements to work and sponsor dependants.
NUSU rejected these attacks on the rights of international students. Newcastle, as a University, city, economy and society is enriched immeasurably by the presence of its international population. Therefore, NUSU in conjunction with international students and activists responded to the consultation and outlined our profound disagreement with the changes proposed. In fact, part of this response was quoted by the Home Affairs Select Committee in their enquiry into the changes.
As a result of concerted pressure by NUSU and other unions from across the country, the Government was forced to water down their original proposals;
• Pathway courses – protected!
• Requirement to show progression between courses – scrapped!
• Requirement to return home to apply – scrapped!
• Changes to employment rules – scrapped!
Despite this astonishing climbdown, there are still plans to scrap the Tier 1 VISA route. We continue to work, in conjunction with NUS to oppose this and welcome any further input from students who are interested in furthering this campaign.
However, these changes show the great effect that collective organisation can have. The impact of unions and universities working together forced the Government’s hand and showed NUSU campaigning for and creating real change!